The Capital is staying locked in a sizzling heatwave – and forecasters say Edinburgh could be heading for record-breaking temperatures.
Sunseekers are being warned to stay safe as the thermometer hovers around the 29C mark – putting the likes of Barcelona in the shade.
The fine weather means attractions across the city have been enjoying bumper visitor numbers as families make the most of the sunny spells.
But experts have issued a heatwave health warning amid fears the stifling conditions could trigger a rash of sunburn and heat exhaustion admissions to hospital.
Paul Mott, senior meteorologist at MeteoGroup, said: “The maximum temperatures have been exceptional.
“Most days it has been between 23C and 28C. The exception was the start of the month when it was a little cooler, but I think the average maximum temperature would probably be pretty close to record-breaking.
“Certainly, Thursday saw temperatures of 28.6C, which is the hottest it has been all month.”
The weather is set to cool slightly in the coming days but the sunshine will continue, with temperatures remaining well into their 20s – much higher than the average of 18C.
The crowds flocked to Edinburgh Zoo as it prepares to celebrate its centenary year on Monday. Almost 20,000 more people made their way through its doors compared with the same month last year.
Visitor experiences coordinator Tony Bradford said: “Families are really making the most of the current wonderful weather and Edinburgh Zoo’s summer activities.
“As our centenary month, it is great to see so many people enjoying the zoo and sunbathing on our special sand zoo beach.”
The Royal Botanic Garden has also proven a hit, but the heatwave has brought challenges. Supervisor Martyn Dickson said: “The glorious sunshine continues to make this a bumper summer for visitor numbers, particularly when you consider the rain we suffered at the same time last year.
“By the same token, the hot dry spell in July – following on from the cold and dry spell from March to June – means we are acutely aware of the need to avert moisture stress in many plant species.
“With only 2.4mm of rain this month – and nothing since July 5 – our automatic irrigation systems have been enhanced through targeted use of sprinklers and hoses around the site. In particular, attention is being paid to the rhododendrons which are such an important part of our living collection.”
Sales of summer products such as ice cubes, sun cream and portable air conditioners have gone through the roof with shoppers eager to make the most of the long hot spell.
But Dr Graham Mackenzie, consultant in public health, NHS Lothian, warned some people had still failed to take precautions in the soaring temperatures.
He said: “All you need to do is walk along Princes Street to see people who have very obviously had too much sun.
“A little bit of sun is a good thing, but there can be negative consequences and people should take care – it doesn’t take long to get too hot and even five minutes in strong sunlight is enough to burn some people’s skin.
“And there are more serious implications such as heatstroke, when the body’s cells stop working properly and natural defences against the heat like sweating fail.
“It can cause confusion so people do not know what’s happening to them, hyperventilation and a loss of consciousness – that’s not something to play around with.”
In particular, older people and young children, who may be more susceptible to the heat, have been told to take care. A spokesman for AGE Scotland said: “Just as in severe winters, it’s vital that we look out for older relatives and neighbours who live alone and may be vulnerable during the heatwave.
“People with breathing problems or a heart condition can find their symptoms get worse in high temperatures, so it may be a good idea for them to ask their GP for advice.
“In most cases the same general tips for coping with hot weather will apply to older people. However it’s particularly important that they do get a little sun – ten to 15 minutes a day without sunscreen – in order to top up on vitamin D, deficiency of which can lead to problems such as poor bone health in later life.”
The Scottish SPCA renewed appeals to the public not to leave dogs in hot cars as it revealed it had received 75 calls across Edinburgh and the Lothians this month.
Chief Inspector Paul Anderson, who described the matter as concerning, said: “Every summer we run a campaign but it’s clear some owners aren’t getting the message and we’re keen to remind people of the dangers. Owners need to understand that it’s completely unacceptable to leave a dog in a vehicle in these searing temperatures, even for a short period of time with the windows down. In this kind of heat, even five minutes could be deadly.”
Crooks’ windows of opportunity
The heatwave has prompted a warning from police over thieves seeking to take advantage of home security lapses.
Many people are more relaxed in their own homes, particularly when leaving windows open, and thieves can also strike through open car windows in slow moving traffic.
A Police Scotland spokesman said: “We are committed to keeping people safe and tackling acquisitive crime. During warm weather, homeowners may, understandably, keep windows and doors open to provide ventilation to their properties.
“However, when you leave your home unattended, it is recommended that windows and doors are appropriately secured to prevent criminal access. Anyone wishing advice on crime prevention is encouraged to follow our Twitter feed at @EdinburghPolice.”